How to Avoid Getting Stuck in Regret

Do you ever feel sorry because of things you did or didn’t do? Do you ever wish you could change things that happened in the past?

Most of us do.

We’ve made some mistakes we regret. In some way we’ve fallen short of all we wanted to do and be and all God wants for us. We fail to live up the ideal. The original Greek word for sin simply means to fall short. We all can admit to falling short in some area of our lives.

Now when we think about those things we can sometimes get stuck, living in regret.

There is a more constructive choice than dwelling on the incident or incidents. You cannot do much about the past but you can make better choices in the future.

Today in my online group reading through the Bible, we read King David’s psalm of repentance. For those who don’t know the story, King David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband killed to cover up when she became pregnant. If you are not familiar with it, I suggest you read the story in II Samuel 11, 12 in the Bible.

12 Ways to Move From Regret to Making Better Choices 

When David was confronted with the way he handled the situation, he could no longer deny his sin. He gives us an amazing model to follow in Psalm 51 on how to handle our shortcomings, mistakes and sins.

1. David prayed. He immediately went to God to talk about what happened. His relationship with God had been damaged and David knew the issues needed to be addressed. He didn’t turn away from God, he turned to Him.

2. He asked for mercy. He threw Himself fully on the mercy of God. He called on the unfailing love and compassion of God. He reached out for those qualities in God.

3. He asked for his transgressions to be blotted out and to be washed away, cleansed. He wanted to be rid of the things in him which caused him to hurt others and himself because of his sin.

4. He took responsibility. He admitted that he sinned against God and had done evil. He grieves as he declares, “Against you alone have I sinned.” He knew He had broken God’s law of love, consideration and respect of the rights of another human being.

5. He recognized that God has the right to judge and God was right in His verdict. God alone has the right to judge, not a culture, society or a belief system unless it’s one which is based on the laws of God and His ways.

6. He acknowledged his inherent tendency to do wrong from birth, that he inherited a sin nature. This is an acknowledgement that he could not save himself and a recognition that he needed help. He recognizes he needs a Savior.

7. David knew that God wanted him to know truth in his inner self and asked for God to give him wisdom in his inmost being. He knew as Proverbs says that wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men.

8. He entreated God to create in him, a pure and a clean heart. In this statement, he shows a willingness to change. He recognized that He could not do this on his own and He needs help. He recognizes that God had the ability to clean his heart of wrongdoing and David asked for it. He knows that God is the only one who can cleanse Him from his guilt of bloodshed.

We know that Jesus Christ is the one who took the punishment for our sins by shedding His blood on the cross. When we accept Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, we can be in right relationship with God and we don’t have to stay stuck in guilt and shame. The power of sin and death was broken at the cross. When we accept Christ’s sacrifice, we can experience a spiritual rebirth. Then we are set free to live up to our potential. We can be all we want to be and all God created us to be as we live in relationship with God.

9. He acknowledges that he cannot make sacrifices which will make up for his sin. There is nothing he can do to perform or make up for it. David’s sacrifice is his brokenness and a contrite spirit. He knows that is pleasing to God and He will not despise it. Psalm 34 says God is close to the brokenhearted. He comes close to those who are genuinely broken over what they have done.

10. David asked to be restored to joy and gladness. Sin robs you of joy. David asked for the joy of his salvation to be restored and for God to give him a willing spirit. A willing spirit replaces the rebellious spirit which caused him to sin.

11. David commits to not only be cleansed himself but then to also teach other transgressors God’s ways. He recognized that his salvation, forgiveness and cleansing from God is not only for himself but so he can help others as well.

12. Then David declares he will sing of God’s righteousness and that he will praise Him. David has confidence that his sin will be forgiven and he can have his relationship with God restored. He knows he doesn’t have to grovel in self-condemnation and sorrow, he can have joy again.

How about you? What do you do when you feel bad about what you’ve done? Meditate on Psalm 51 and follow this pattern, reach out to God and call on His mercy and love, grieve, let yourself have those feelings of sadness.

Ask God to cleanse your heart and to make you to know truth and wisdom in your inmost being so you don’t make the same choices. Ask God to bring you to a place of joy again where you can praise Him. God is a God of mercy and second chances and will give you another chance to get it right.

When you do these things you will move from stuck to victory. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to redeem your mistakes by helping others find their way.

What has been your experience? Share with us in the comments below. If you want to share with me but you don’t want your comments to be made public, put that in your comments and I won’t make them public. Or you can email me sharonrosegibson(at) Some matters are private and you don’t want to broadcast them. Discretion is wisdom. Whatever you feel safe sharing publicly, can help others so keep that in mind as well.

Also, if this blog post has helped you, share it with your friends so they can benefit too.


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